Tag: Dwight Howard

Houston Rockets v Miami Heat

Report: Rockets planning all-out push for LeBron James


Bill Simmons’ quasi-reported the Rockets would pursue LeBron James if he terminates his contract with the Heat.

Now, LeBron joining Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston is gaining momentum – and credibility?

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

League sources say that Houston is preparing to make an all-out push to land James when free agency opens on July 1, assuming James opts out, as expected. If the Rockets miss out on James, they will turn their full attention to Carmelo Anthony. Chris Bosh is also on the radar.

There are rumblings that James will start weighing his options this weekend. One rival executive pegged his chances of leaving Miami at 40 percent.

Beck lists a four-point plan he says would give Houston about $19 million in cap room

  • Trade Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin – who are each owed nearly $15 million in actual salary next season – without returning salary
  • Trade Donatas Motiejunas and Isaiah Canaan without returning salary
  • Waive a few players with non-guaranteed deals
  • Decline team option Chandler Parsons and re-sign him as a restricted free agent after LeBron signs

The Rockets say they can deal Asik and Lin without taking back salary, so we’ll take their word on that for now.

Motiejunas and Canaan are good enough and cheap enough that someone would probably take them if offered.

As far as the non-guaranteed deals, Beck is presumably referring to Omri Casspi, Robert Covington and Troy Daniels (who actually has a team option, which requires a decision by June 30, meaning Houston would have to drop him before ever legally speaking to LeBron). Patrick Beverley also has a non-guaranteed contract, but Beck names him a starter alongside LeBron in this scenario, so he obviously wouldn’t get waived.

Declining Parsons’ team option would actually increase the amount he counts against the cap, and he could always get impatient and sign an offer sheet elsewhere before Houston signs LeBron. But apparently that’s the plan, so I’m just rolling with the report.

Do all that, and the Rockets would be $17,265,007 below the projected salary cap – not the $19 million Beck says.

Signing into the cap space Beck’s plan would actually create would cost LeBron more than $14 million over four years relative to what he could get in a max deal with any team outside Miami. It would also be $45 million less than he could get on a five-year max deal by re-signing with the Heat.

By comparison, LeBron gave up less than $14 million below his max deal when signing with the Heat in 2010 – and loss was spread over six years rather than four.

Back then, he organized a sign-and-trade to get a higher salary, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. Whether or not the Rockets land LeBron in a sign-and-trade or an outright signing, they can offer him the same salary.

LeBron might take a pay cut to join Houston, but let’s not pretend it’s a trivial reduction.

The Rockets could create more cap room by convincing Francisco Garcia to opt out or trade him if he doesn’t (Beck doesn’t mention him). They could also waive or trade Beverly and/or Terrence Jones, another player Beck names as holding role in Houston.

Picking up Parsons’ team option would also add cap room, but good luck walking back the offer to give Parsons a raise this year rather than next year. In the name of LeBron, it’s probably worth upsetting Parsons, but that’s just one of many complications.

Mainly, LeBron probably wants to stay with the Heat.

But at the same time, he and the Rockets can use each other.

LeBron can show interest in Houston to persuade Micky Arison to spend more. The Rockets can parlay LeBron’s intrigue into a perception Houston is a desirable markets for superstars. Howard and Harden help, but LeBron carries more weight than anyone.

Heck, the Rockets don’t even need LeBron to actually show interest. Reports like Beck’s already help establish their credibility.

As for Bosh and Melo, are they just supposed to wait while LeBron talks to Houston?

Bosh faces the same salary situation as LeBron. Plus, if LeBron rejects the Rockets to re-sign in Miami, Bosh very likely follows him back.

And I’ll say it until I’m red in the face, unless the cap comes in higher than projected, the Rockets could trim their roster to just Howard and Harden and still couldn’t offer Melo a max contract. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it’s a roadblock.

There are a lot of roadblock in this whole plan.

Daryl Morey has big ambitions, which is good for the Rockets. But we need to acknowledge this one is pretty unlikely to come to fruition.

Dwight Howard says he’s “on same page” with Rockets trying to add another star

Dwight Howard, James Harden

Houston has Dwight Howard and James Harden, but they want their own “big three.”

In their first year together Howard and Harden led a Rockets team with an explosive offense to 54 wins, but in the playoffs Damian Lillard was knocking down shots and leading Portland to knock off the Rockets 4-2 in the first round. It was a sign of how far the Rockets still have to go

Now the Rockets want to add one more big name — Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James or Chris Bosh if they opt out, or whoever else may be available.

Howard is “on the same page” with that and he just wants to win, he wants to get another star in Houston, he told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“Looking at this organization, where we’re trying to go, I think all of us are pretty much on the same page. Each day I’m talking to the people up top, trying to figure out ways to try and get better. The coaching staff, from our trainer, in the weight room the guys are working on our bodies every day just trying to figure out how to get better. That’s been our focus….

“I haven’t spoken with Melo personally. I know this is a time for him when he has to really just focus on what’s going to be best for him. And I really believe that in this point in Melo’s career, he just wants to win. He’s done everything – we both have that kind of same mentality to where all the individual accolades, we’ve got them. We’ve got a gold medal, he has been in tops in scoring for a while, but those are all individual things. I think at this point he just wants to win, so it would be great to have him here because I know what his focus would be. It’s up to him, where he’s at in his career. But I want people on my team who are all about winning. That’s my focus.”

Howard spent the entire Q&A talking about winning, about pushing himself and his teammates to get to the next level. He said everything a Rockets fan could want to hear.

That off-season improvement likely is not enough in the West, hence the drive for a third star.

Getting Anthony or any star will require some financial gymnastics — trading Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin without taking any salary back, plus possibly letting Chandler Parsons walk (he’s a restricted free agent so the Rockets can match and offer, and they have his bird rights so they can go over the cap to re-sign him, but that has to be after the star signs for there to be room to add a player like that).

Last season was a bit of a learning curve year for the Rockets, one where Howard and Harden tried to adjust to one another. The Rockets should be better next season no matter what moves GM Daryl Morey makes, the problem is they are in the West and better may not be good enough against the Spurs, Thunder or Clippers.

So the Rockets want another star. Howard wants that, too. He’s not going to recruit guys, but he’s on “the same page” with the front office.

Dirk Nowitzki on Carmelo Anthony: ‘We’d love to have him’

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets

The Carmelo Anthony free agent winds are blowing toward Chicago and Houston, but the Mavericks always believed they had a shot at the Knicks star.

Unlike the Bulls and Rockets, Dallas can offer Melo a full max contract outright. Of course, the Mavericks will save some of that space for Dirk Nowitzki, but it sounds as if re-signing him will go smoothly.

How much will Nowitzki get? That’s one of the biggest questions about Dallas’ pursuit of Melo. It will depend on what Nowitzki desires, including how much he wants to play with Melo.

Nowitzki on 105.3 The Fan:

“If Carmelo would really love to come here,” Dirk says, “we’d love to have him.”

“Listen, I think I’ve showed over my 16 years that I can play with anybody,” the UberMan says. “The only tough season I think we’ve had is when we had (Antawn) Jamison and Antoine Walker and myself who are all three kind of the same 4-men, but other than that I think I’ve shown over my career that I can play with anybody. I’ll adjust, whether I have to get out of the way or go to the corner more, post up, pass — I’ll do whatever, really, that needs to be done out there to win or for this franchise to be a winner.”

Obligatory note that Melo is still technically under contract with the Knicks, and by the letter of the law, this is definitely tampering. However, the NBA has clearly decided to look the other way on players tampering – which means Nowitzki isn’t doing enough.

He should speak to Melo directly, just as Joakim Noah has done and Chandler Parsons did with Dwight Howard. For some reason, the league has essentially granted Nowitzki authority to act as an agent for the Mavericks before free agency begins. Dallas should have him take advantage and gain information about how to best pitch Melo.

There are a lot of moving parts here. Is Melo insistent on a full max contract? Should the Mavericks decline the team option on Jae Crowder? Should they waive Samuel Dalembert – or better yet, trade him while they still can?

Melo can help answer those questions, and Nowitzki can apparently ask them on behalf of management, which can’t speak to Anthony until July 1.

Expressing fondness for Melo on the radio might help, but I bet Nowitzki would accomplish much more by picking up the phone and calling Melo.

Could ‘Melo rejuvenate the Heat?

Report: Carmelo Anthony leaning towards leaving New York; Chicago, Houston frontrunners

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks

Phil Jackson’s suggestion that Carmelo Anthony take less money to stay in New York so there is flexibility to build a team around him has an obvious counter argument:

If you’re going to take less money to win, why not do that in another city where the parts are already assembled to have a contender? It’s likely why when they met recently Jackson suggests Anthony opt-in for next season, giving Jackson a year to work his plan.

Anthony has said from the start he is opting out and not only that, he’s leaning toward leaving and heading to Chicago or Houston, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

As re-signing with the Knicks continues to fade as his priority, Chicago and Houston have emerged as the clear frontrunners to acquire Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Anthony’s meeting with Knicks officials on Friday night had little impact on his state of mind, league sources said, because there remain too many uncertainties about how quickly president Phil Jackson can reshape the team into a championship contender.

If winning really is Anthony’s priority (he has said that, but everybody says that) then both of those teams make sense as a fit.

Chicago needs a second reliable shot creator and scoring option next to (a hopefully healthy) Derrick Rose, plus they have a defensive system and a Defensive Player of the Year in Joakim Noah who can help clean up Anthony’s defensive mistakes (he’s worked harder on that end the past couple years, but let’s not pretend ‘Melo is a good defender).

Houston needs a stretch four that will help space the floor, and with Dwight Howard and James Harden the Rockets would have their “big three” put together. They would be contenders, although the West is already full of contenders. The two questions I have about Anthony in Houston: Kevin McHale wants to run and we know how Anthony felt about those Mike D’Antoni offensive principles before, will ‘Melo play in the system? Can Howard, as great a defensive backstop as he is, salvage a defense with Harden and Anthony?

The front offices for both of those teams are working on plans to clear cap space to make Anthony a big, although not max, offer.

There will be other teams trying to get in the mix. Obviously New York is making their pitch. The Lakers are out there, although they are lukewarm on the idea of the Kobe Bryant/Anthony pairing (as they should be).

But it looks more and more like Anthony is ready to move on.

Which really isn’t the worst thing for a Knicks team trying to rebuild.

Chandler Parsons on LeBron James: “You’ll see him in a different jersey next year”

Miami Heat v Houston Rockets

Is Houston’s Chandler Parsons — the guy who worked hard to recruit Dwight Howard to Houston — starting to try the same thing with LeBron James?

Not likely, but he was on ESPN’s Sports Nation show and said he thought losing these NBA Finals, in the manner they did, is going to have LeBron looking to bolt.

“I think if they would have won the championship it would have been a different story and they would have come back to do it again but he’s got so much responsibility, he’s obviously one of the best players if not the best player, I think them losing will make him make a move and opt out and you’ll see him in a differnent jersey next year.”

For the record, that would be restricted free agent and guy potentially moved in a big trade Chandler Parsons talking. I’m more curious what jersey he will be wearing next season.

Parsons goes on to say he can’t see LeBron teaming up with Kobe Bryant on the Lakers. He can see a return to Cleveland.

These Finals and the manner in which Miami lost certainly has made it clear it’s time for some changes to the Heat. The question LeBron needs to ask himself who he trusts to put an elite team around him to win more titles? Does he trust the inexperienced Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher in New York? Does he trust Jim Buss? Does he trust Dan Gilbert to build a solid organization on Cleveland?

Or does he trust Pat Riley to recruit guys to come play in Miami? Got a feeling it’s still the last option.

Hat tip to Reddit NBA.